Thursday, August 18, 2005

San Jose Jazz Festival Part Two

By now everyone should know that San Jose hosts the largest free jazz festival of its kind on the planet. It's a great hang and you can see a myriad of local talent as well as the elite of the jazz world. Since I'm a local yokel, I want to toot my horn for the locals today.
Open Path recording artist, my musical twin and fellow Novo Tempo compadre saxophonist Kristen Strom played one of the most inspiring sets I've seen in a long time. Her debut CD "Intentions" features players like Jon Shiflitt, Jason Lewis, hubby/ soul mate and producer Scott Sorkin and Adam Schulman. She also has singing with her Ed "Two Cell" Johnson and her La Familia.
From the first note, her melodic conception and lyrical singing tone lifted us all out of our seats into another world. Her choice of material is melody oriented and the way the band flowed thru them and improvised was second to none. What a great feeling, to close your eyes while listening to her set and see wave after waves of images brought forth by the beauty of her music. I know the crowd was hip to it because they were quiet. They listened and got it! The audience should get 5 stars for being so in tune. Congrats on the debut of "Intentions" and your masterful performance Kris.
The Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco also knocked me out. Led by sensei John Calloway, they showed us all why they will be the future stars of tomorrow. Wayne Wallace leaned over to me at one point and said, "These are the cat's who'll be taking our gigs someday". It's nice to know that the future is in such good hands! Trombonist Natalie Cressman, daughter of trombonist Jeff Cressman and vocalist Sandy Cressman was up there wailing. I hadn't seen her in a few years since we rehearsed at the Cressman manor for the Don Byron gig at Monterey Jazz Festival. She's all grown up now! I remember her when she was this tiny little baby hangin' on Momma and Poppa's pant leg. Keep up the good work Natalie!
I saw much more music while floating from one stage after another. I saw my friends and trumpeters Tom Bertetta and Randy Smith. Tom was playing with a salsa band and Randy was playing with Octobop. I met Bobby Watson, was mesmerized by Andy Nozaka's photo exhibit in the museum, hung out with Kye Palmer (trumpet w/Poncho Sanchez), hung with one of my best buds Kerry McCoy and ran around a bit with the love of my life, my loving wife Susan. She had her own event to go to so I had my hall pass for a moment to hang out and chill. Jayne Sanchez was her fun self hosting the Repetory Theater stage and I saw Rich S. and Maureen M. in the front row cheering on Kris. Tom K. was checking out the sounds here and there and Jack and Ellen Fasman watching little Dana Rose and Laura Fasman who were checking out their poppa Louis on stage. Terry Ross, ex-lead trumpeter from the Woody Herman Orchestra was at Gordon Biersch watching the salsa band from Santa Cruz do their thing.
I also had fun being a part of a jazz panel discussion hosted by Yoshi Kato. It was called "What Do You Know..Trade Secrets" My fellow panelists were Sonny Buxton, Jackie Naylor and Art Khu. We had a nice audience and the topics ranged from jazz education to what we did to develop ourselves into artists. It was a nice blend of folks. We all were players/writers/educators and shared stories about ourselves. We all walked away with feeling like we got to know each other a little bit better.
Thank you San Jose Jazz Society, for bringing such a memorable and vital contribution to the soul of our community. Thanks to Rob Roman and Steve Saperstein for their hard work and faith in the music and those who play it. Thanks to all of the staff, Marcia, Matt, Casey and everyone else who make it all happen every year. Ah...less than 51 weeks till it happens again!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

San Jose Jazz Festival

The world's largest "free" jazz festival took place this past weekend in San Jose, CA. It's the only festival I've ever been to and participated in where you can see a different act every hour for two days straight! I put some big numbers on my pedometer checking out all of the different bands. More about them in my next blog...
I played with Dr Wayne Wallace and Rhythm and Rhyme Saturday on the Latin Jazz stage. Wayne as you all probably know is a prolific composer/arranger as well as trombonist of monstrous proportions. His band is made up of the best cats in the Bay Area and tore it up!!!
Check out this line up:
Louis Fasman-lead trumpet
Marcia Miget- tenor sax
Melecio Magdaluyo-bari sax, flute
Murray Low, Frank Martin-keyboards
Dave Belove-bass
Paul VW-drums
Micheal Spiro, John Santos-percussion
With Wayne leading it all, it turned into one of the most exciting afternoons in the history of the festival. At one point we had Micheal Zilber on soprano sax, Dan Weinstein on trombone and Open Path recording artist Kristen Strom on stage tearing it up. Louis and I had some fun playing harmon muted solos on "Silver Serenade" which brought forth a comment from Wayne along the lines of "Angry Harmon's" or something. On "Take The A Train", Louis played an "F" above (!) double "C" as loud as the one I played an octave below!!! From the strong ensemble work to the imaginative solos, Wayne did his thing again and created another afternoon of music to remember.
On Sunday, Louis, Kris, Wayne and myself joined the ranks of the San Jose Jazz Orchestra on the Main stage to back up Geri Allen, Bobby Watson and a gospel choir to honor the memory of the late Ray Charles. Geri Allen played wonderful, Bobby Watson sounded great, the choir swung and the band kicked butt for 15 minutes. Yes, you heard me correct. I couldn't believe we got only 15 minutes after all the work that went into putting the band together. We were supposed to play longer but everything was running late and we took it for the cause. More about this in my next blog….
My severe disappointment was abated when Ray Vega walked on the Latin Jazz stage and showed everyone why he is considered to be one of the greats in any style or venue in the modern trumpet world. Ray and the band (Murray Low, Micheal Spiro, Dave Belove and Paul VW) had the crowd on their feet dancing, shouting and testifying from the time he got on till the time he left to catch his red eye flight back to the Bronx. Ray was gracious enough to invite me to the stage a blow a few tunes with him. I will never forget the fun and excitement playing next to him on Rahsaan's Run and the other tunes. Thank You Ray, for allowing me to share the stage with you. You are the man my friend!!!
Afterwards, a group of us walked across the street to Gordon Biersch (for the 2nd time that day…can’t get enough of that Marzan stuff) and closed that place down.
It was great to see so many friends at the festival, Kerry McCoy, Lorenzo Perez and his family, John Hablieb, Tom, David Murray,Tom Bertetta, Mark the soundman extraordinaire, Andy Nozaka, Yoshi Kato and the folks on the Jazz Panel Discussion of which will be in my next blog coming very soon. Thanks to all for supporting live jazz. A great time was had by all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

WorlView Live at Espresso Garden & Cafe

All I can say about our gig at Espresso Garden & Cafe is Wow! We had a great time playing for all of the folks that came out to see us last Friday night. Bev and Greg, the founders of TrueWind Music know how to throw a party. From the honor of being the “Hot Ticket” in Thursday's SJ Mercury News to Friday's interview with Yoshi Kato, we were almost able to sell the venue out!
We opened with Horace Silver's "Out Of The Night Came You" and ended the evening with "Autumn Serenade", dedicated to my wife Susan. The crowd was pretty damn feisty. We had quite a thing going at times, and it made it tough for me to play at times because I was laughing so hard. I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth and that's all I'm going to say about that!
There were so many friends that fell by to see us and many new ones that we met for the first time. Tim and Gordon from Open Path Studios, Joe Doll, Cheryl Hopkins, Andy and Stephanie, Mike and Ann, Matt Beasley (the best artist rep a guy like me could ever hope for) and everyone one else, thank you all for making that gig, one I will remember always.
Skyline alumni (19**) and old friend, bassist John Hettel joined us for the evening and played his butt off! The upright bass he played on came from Gordon Stevens. During the break, Gordon climbed on stage to say hi to his old friend and played a couple of notes on it. Dr Wayne Wallace was on fire as usual and Kris Strom brought the house down on her solo on Stanley Clarke's "Why Wait". Greg played her new CD, "Intention" during the breaks and what a masterpiece that is. Look for it on and soon. She is so talented and I confess she is my musical horn playing soul mate! From our work with Wally Schnalle to our present day musings with Ed Johnson and Novo Tempo, there is no other I would choose to work with. So Kris, if you get totally famous from your CD going triple platinum, I hope you still will play with us.....
Murray was his usual incredible playing self, weaving in and out of every style with grace and ease. Paul VW and Michaelle had the crowd on the edge of their chairs more than a few times with their dynamic interactions. On a different note, this was Paul's first gig back since the passing of his wife Carmen. She was a beautiful person and will be missed by all of us. I didn't say anything that night to Paul, the band or the audience but that evening was silently dedicated to her memory.
Thank you all again for coming out to see us at Espresso Garden & Cafe. Our next WorlView gig is on the evening of September 27th at Santana Row. This show is being presented by the San Jose Jazz Society. Stop by, check us out and come up and say Hi. See you then!!!
Ps. I’ll be back soon with blogs on my upcoming performances at the San Jose and Monterey Jazz Festivals.

Monday, August 01, 2005

WorlView Live Stanford and this Friday at Espresso Garden & Cafe

It's been awhile since my last blog...Lot's of water under the bridge. Many good times, more than the space will allow!!!
I want to talk alittle about one of our past gigs and our next gig coming up this Friday, August 5 at Espresso Garden and Cafe.
WorlView celebrated it's one year anniversary at SF Jazz's Summer 2005. The concert took place at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, CA. There must have been close to 300 people going crazy while listening to us play. The band was on fire and the crowd loved us. What a rush to play for all of the folks. I had some friends stop to say hi. Dr. Arleen Chang and her family, Patti Wilkes ( I used to teacher her son Deon), Bruce Knowlton, Mai & Yousef, Laura, Rita, Pauline (Jeff High Alumni), Clifford Brown Jr who did a great job introducing us and so many more...It was overwhelming and probably the best concert I had played in a while. Thank you all so much for coming out to see us play. Your enthusiasm was contagious and it inspired us to new heights!!!
You can see WorlView live in concert, this Friday at the Espresso Garden & Cafe in San Jose, CA. The concert is being presented by TrueWind Music and for those of you who haven't seen a performance there, you have to check this place out. It's an intimate place that serves dinner, libations and some pretty happenin' coffee drinks. I played there recently with Ed Johnson and Novo Tempo and the gig was incredible. The acoustics are great for both the listener and the musicians. Novo Tempo had a blast playing there and when the chance to play there with WorlView came up, I jumped!!! (Thanks to Matt Beasley, u are the man!)
Here is a list of the cats with me Friday night:
Dr. Wayne Wallace- trombone, Kris Strom-sax, Murray Low, John Hettel (filling in for Tom Bockhold who had to go out of town)-bass,
Paul vanWageningen- drums and Michaelle Gorlitz on percussion.
We hope that you can fall by and say hi and dig our tunes. For more info, call 408-298-0808 or go to TrueWindMusic website.

John Worley